Desertfest London 2024 Adds 32 Bands to Lineup & Announces Day Splits

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

So I guess this is the last announcement for the lineup of Desertfest London 2024, and I’ll just say I kind of love the casual manner in which the festival set for May 17-19 tosses in another 30-plus names for the bill. Oh no big deal but here’s like two more fests we’re just gonna add while we give you the schedule. Badass. There’s a lot to dig here on all levels, from the headliners — that Friday at The Electric Ballroom, also Saturday and Sunday, looks pretty sweet — and while I’d set up camp at The Underworld on Saturday, no question I’d have to abscond from that home base to at least catch a bit of Saint KarloffAcid King, and so on, and, well, on Sunday I’m actually kind of relieved I’m just pretending to have to pick one spot to be in, as each room has a distinctive pull. DVNE and Morag Tong or Borracho and KadabraUfomammut and Monolord or Stinking LizavetaDarsombra and Orme? This shit is hard sometimes.

You could go on here in choose-your-adventure daydreaming, and frankly I’d encourage you to do just that. Worst that happens is you end up listening to good music. Or, you know, going to the fest, which would also be the best thing that could happen. Here’s why:


Desertfest London announces day splits and 32 additional artists

Friday 17th May – Sunday 19th May 2024
Weekend & Day Tickets now on sale

Desertfest London has revealed their day and stage splits for their 13th edition, taking place this May across multiple venues in Camden, London.

The festival proudly welcomes Masters of Reality as Friday’s Electric Ballrooms headliners, with Chris Goss at the helm providing a master-class in desert sounds. Plus, newly announced for this stage are Colour Haze and Frankie and The Witch Fingers who will join Brant Bjork Trio and Mondo Generator to kick off the weekend in true Desertfest style. Mantar and Raging Speedhorn will shake-up the Underworld, whilst Brume and Alber Jupiter psych-out at The Black Heart.

Saturday sees skate-punk legends Suicidal Tendencies back in London for the first time in seven years, as they decimate the equally legendary Roundhouse. Joined by Cancer Bats, Bongripper, Acid King and newest addition to the bill, Pest Control. Saturday’s Roundhouse stage is undeniably a melting pot of genres, but celebrating one common thread – insane live performances. Elsewhere, Maserati, Monkey3, Domkraft, Wet Cactus and many more will level Camden to the ground.

Back at the Ballroom on Sunday night, the festival enters its final day with a dose of experimental heaviness from Godflesh, Ozric Tentacles, Monolord, Ufomammut & Ashenspire. Additionally, Desertfest will be welcoming Bat Sabbath, the Black-Sabbath cover band formed by Cancer Bats to close out the entire weekend at our Underworld Stage after-party. Plus, DVNE, Nightstalker, Astroqueen, Stinking Lizaveta & The Grudge, with a hell of a lot more will be rounding off the weekend’s festivities.

Across the weekend, Desertfest has also newly announced the likes of Morag Tong, Borracho, Noisepicker, Gramma Vedetta, Lodestar, Kulk, Earth Tongue, Skypilot, Wolfshead, Weedsnake, Orsak:Oslo, WAXY, Horndal, Silverburn, Fires In The Distance, Sleemo, Midwich Cuckoos, Akersborg, Grand Atomic, Voidlurker, Under The Ashes and Fuz Caldrin.

Weekend & Day Tickets for the event are on sale now via

Full line-up


Friday 17th May
Electric Ballroom



Black Heart

The Dev

Saturday May 18th


Black Heart

The Dev

Sunday May 19th
Electric Ballroom

The Underworld
BAT SABBATH (after-party)


Black Heart

The Dev


Monkey3, “Collision” visualizer

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Desertfest London 2024 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

desertfest LONDON 2024 banner

Getting Masters of Reality over has been a project in the works for Desertfest London since before the pandemic, and it looks like 2024 will be the year. The band burned a few bridges over the last couple years when frontman Chris Goss took a hardline right-wing stance on issues surrounding covid and whatever else (that kind of thing will win fans as well in some cases), but their work remains the stuff of legend and any time there’s a connection to OG-era Californian desert rock — as there is with Goss, who was there in his own band and as producer for Kyuss, etc. — that’s a boon and a good get for Desertfest generally, though even if you’re not a Masters of Reality fan owing to politics or just never having gotten on board, the entire line right under them on the poster is unfuckwithable: GodfleshMonolordAcid King and Ufomammut. Goodness gracious. And the next name is Brant Bjork. Gonna be Desertfest, to be sure.

Warms my cold dead ‘eart to see Stinking Lizaveta and Darsombra confirmed — I’ll put Domkraft in that sentimental-favorite category as well, and check out fellow Swedes Astroqueen doing some more traveling — and I look forward to the grandiose plaudits soon to be bestowed on Warpstormer and Goblinsmoker after their respective appearances, which is something Sergeant Thunderhoof should be able to help them through. With Clouds Taste Satanic traversing the Atlantic again, and others like Pijn and DuskwoodMantarMaserati and Monkey3, there’s a three-day fest’s worth of acts already revealed in this first announcement and probably two or three more three-day fests’ worth of names to come. I’ll tell you outright I’d shit a brick to see this. If you’re gonna be there, know how lucky you are.

From the PR wire:

Desertfest London announces 25 bands for 2024 edition including headliners Masters of Reality plus, Godflesh, Monolord, Acid King, Ufomammut & more

Friday 17th May – Sunday 19th May 2024 | Weekend Tickets now on sale

Desertfest London have unveiled 25 bands for their 12th edition, taking place across multiple venues in Camden next May 17th – 19th.

Following their pandemic induced cancellation in 2020, Desertfest is thrilled to announce desert rock pioneers Masters of Reality for the event. It will be the band’s first UK appearance in almost a decade. Masters of Reality is the brainchild of legendary producer Chris Goss (Welcome to Sky Valley, Rated R, Blues for The Red Sun, Dust, Songs for The Deaf). Their combination of hard-rock blues with a progressive tinge makes no apologies for not sticking within the stylised box listeners would expect, yet simultaneously provides the perfect lesson in the musical ethos and story-telling of the Palm Desert scene – all led by the man who laid its foundations.

Following an unforgettable performance at the New York edition of the Desertfest franchise a few months ago, industrial trailblazers Godflesh will return to London for a masterclass in sonic brutality. UK exclusive performances come in the form of Swedish doom masters Monolord, California stoner metal legends Acid King and the long-awaited return of Italian experimentalists Ufomammut.

Further Desert Rock royalty rolls into Camden Town, as Brant Bjork Trio will treat attendees to a back-catalogue few artists can compete with. Instrumental sound shifters Maserati, hard-hitting duo Mantar, introspective visionaries Cloakroom and heavy-psych rockers Monkey3 will take the concept of genres and set them ablaze.

Elsewhere the likes of Blanket, Domkraft, Pijn, Sugar Horse, Stinking Lizaveta and Darsombra will bring a captivating change of pace to the event. Whilst the stoner rock vibes remain alive and well with Astroqueen, Wet Cactus, Sergeant Thunderhoof and Duskwood.

If that wasn’t enough to get your teeth into, Desertfest rounds of its first announcement with Goblinsmoker, Clouds Taste Satanic, Warpstormer, Sonic Taboo & Wizdoom.

Weekend Tickets for the event are on sale now via with much more to still be announced!

Full line-up:


Godflesh, Live in Boston, Massachusetts, Sept. 15, 2023

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Notes From Freak Valley 2023 – Day 1

Posted in Features, Reviews on June 9th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

El Perro (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Freak Valley Festival 2023 – Day 1

Thu. – Before the Show – Shade tent

It’s good to be here. I rode in with Besvärjelsen, as my late flight ended up coinciding with their also landing at Frankfurt. It was nice to meet them. Did a bit of stretching in the parking lot of their hotel and a couple of them joined in. Warrior one, two, stretching the back. Maybe next year I’ll convince Jens, who runs Freak Valley, to let me host doom-yoga. Not gonna count on it.

Stopped off at the hotel to take a shower that I knew I needed but didn’t realize how much until the water hit me. Flight was oof. Not much sleep, delayed takeoff, shake-shake-wobble-wobble turbulence, the whole bit. I decided before we were actually over the ocean that if the plane went down I was tired enough that I’d be at least conceptually alright with it. Started watching the third Hobbit movie at one point. Watched them kill the dragon and left it at that. At the hotel, showered, changed clothes, brushed teeth, drank some water, headed back out.

It was supposed to rain today, still might I guess, but there’s an awful lot of blue sky and sunshine for that. I’m under a tent by the side of the stage anyhow, so whatever, but it wasn’t my plan to be in this spot all night. The cigarette smell would get me after a while, but, outdoors, so that’s it for that. The crowd once again is a dope mix. Oldschool heads, newschool heads, kids, a whole mess of volunteers. First band is on soon and the vibe is already on standby waiting for them to start.

And now I’m reading that Pat Robertson died. Well, this is a special occasion. Shall we make a day of it?

Sorry in advance for the typos:


Tuskar 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Heavy start to the proceedings with UK duo Tuskar, who were not at all held back in terms of heft for not having another two or three dudes in the band. Some shades of Black Cobra in the faster parts as there almost inevitably would be, but they weren’t shy about the sludgier aspects of their sound either, and thus they were able to change up when they needed to, sounding all the more explosive coming out of a midtempo groove locked into a High on Fireish thrashy shove. But thick in tone they were and intermittently aggressive, more so than anyone else playing today, despite the proggy/post-metal explorations happening in the material and the Conan-born barking vocals. If you’re not Om, atmosphere can be hard to come by as a duo, but they laid it on with ferocity, and while some were no doubt surprised at what took place after they dug in, the early crowd showed up. The band said from the stage they didn’t have merch because of Brexit, told people to go online. I popped half a Xanax while I was at the hotel. The nod is doing better by my head right now than the intense parts, but put them together as they are and it’s killer all the way. Would be devastating at The Black Heart.


Astroqueen 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It started to rain a couple songs into their set, slow at first then picking up. It was supposed to, but it was still a bit of a surprise when it actually happened. Surrounding sky was still at least partially blue — and I wouldn’t call it smoke-free, necessarily, but at least it’s not Canadian wildfires like at home — and Astroqueen were classic-heavy-rockin’ hard enough that I’m not sure they ever noticed. I saw them in December, but their reunion is still pretty fresh. There was some issue with the kick drum and then that was sorted and riffs were had. I’m pretty sure they called 2001’s Into Submission “their last album,” which is hilarious. Most of the crowd just stayed in the rain, but I headed for shelter in tone to hear “Soulburner” riffed out like a direct forebear to Truckfighters, with “Superhuman God” following after, and I stayed until the cigarette smoke got abrasive. For what it’s worth, there was an actual toddler in the tent, and he seemed fine. I’m ready to bet on another Astroqueen record though. You heard it here, probably not actually first.


Besvarjelsen (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There are arguments to be made for each of the acts playing today, but for me personally, Besvärjelsen were the one I was most looking forward to seeing. They’re a band with some pretty stark differences in personality — and here I’ll note that Johan Rockner, who generally handles bass, was absent and they had a fill-in — but across the stage from guitarist Staffan Stensland Vinrot to guitarist Andreas Baier with drummer Erik Bäckwall behind, they each seemed to bring something individual to the expression of the whole in a way that was unexpected but welcome. Eclectic, they were. The vocals of Lea Amling Alazam are a definite focal point and uniting factor, and around those, the band drew pieces of different styles under the heavy umbrella — Baier’s history in more extreme metal also makes more sense seeing him on stage — from doom and psych to heavy post-rock and so on, never quite only one thing at one time. They had a pit going out front for a minute or two there — three bands in, the people are ready to throw down, apparently — but went into “Clouds” from last year’s Atlas (review here) and so put the crowd exactly where they wanted them at least twice. Was psyched already to hear to what they did next in the studio. That is only more the case now, and I feel like I have a better sense of who they are as a group as well. Total win. And they were also awesome, and finished with the massive riff of “I skuggan av ditt mörker” from 2018’s Vallmo (review here), so, bonus.


They were putting on a show in a way no one else here yet has been, stage costumes, ’70s strut and all, but nothing about France’s Komodor seemed phony or cheeky in an ironic sense – definitely otherwise cheeky – and they had and used three guitarists on stage, at least one of whom played her last year with Djinn? Might’ve been someone else. In any case, they ripped it up and were energetic, catchy, young, well-mustachioed, and able to pivot in terms of their arrangements with two guitarists, their drummer and their bassist also handling vocals. They drew a good crowd though, and held most of it for the duration. I kind of like it that the conventional wisdom is vintage-style rock is “done.” Makes me want to make buttons that say “Boogie Lives” or some such nonsense. I’ll confess that as they played I started to feel the length of the day, which really began when I went to the airport yesterday, never mind landing this morning, but there was fun to be had and I had it watching Komodor. Hey man, I love boogie, and I hear it’s making a comeback!

El Perro

El Perro 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

For a dude who spends as much of his day thinking and talking about riffs as I do, I’m not actually a huge guitar guy. I never learned to play, don’t know gear or theory or scales. But I know damn well that I could watch Parker Griggs play guitar for an entire evening and go to bed afterward feeling like night was well spent. This is a new lineup of El Perro, Griggs, Dorian from Blues Pills, Mucho Drums on… wait for it… Drums. Percussionist and bassist also seemingly picked out for the purpose of this tour and maybe more. The band that put out Hair of El Perro last year blew up, so here’s a new one, and the curated sensibility is palpable. It’s Griggs’ band and he’s pretty clearly chosen specifically people he wants to play with. Radio Moscow might also have been that, but the dynamic is different here, as well as the music, emphasis on funk over blues filtered through heavy rhythms bolstered by percussion. Demon Fuzz, anyone? You ever hear that Mandrill record? Doesn’t matter. Chaos is part of it, always with Griggs. Shit might blow up, amps or otherwise, but the guy has a genuine vision of the music he wants to make and he’s a virtuoso on guitar. It had been a long time. It was a pleasure to see him play again, and I’m glad the wah didn’t catch fire.

Total side note: there are two dudes here in robes. Like, bathrobes. Two! Maybe even three! And at least one of them has a backpatch! They’ve got clothes on underneath, otherwise security might have something to say about it, but when was the last time you went anywhere, let alone a show, and found at least two guys Lebowskiing it up? And they’re not even here together, so far as I can tell. This is a pretty special fest.

Urlaub in Polen

Whatever else they may be, Urlaub in Polen is the reason I know that “urlaub” is the German word for vacation. The long-running krautrock duo, who are actually from Germany, they apparently just vacation in Poland, were about as stark a left turn from El Perro as one might make and still be at the same festival, synth and organ and guitar and drums sounding like a much fuller band. Thinking back to how this day started, Tuskar used the duo configuration to emphasize rawness. Urlaub in Polen — the day’s only other two-piece — were on a different trip. Repetitive rhythms, explorations of melody and heavy impact, quirk galore and groove to match. I’ll admit that my prior experience with the band is limited to having checked them out before coming here, but they’re heavier live than anything I managed to stream, and people were still dancing. Not moshing. Actual dance, to a kind of mostly-organic techno rock. It was cool and a reminder that sometimes Freak Valley throws in a shift in vibe and it works of course because it just does. Cool shit. And I swear it’s not a slight against them that I’m falling asleep sitting up. I’m just very, very tired.


Clutch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Ripper of a start to the set with “Impetus” into “Subtle Hustle,” “Earth Rocker” — hard to believe that record came out a decade ago — and “Firebirds” back to back to back to back. Then the new stuff, “Sunrise on Slaughter Beach,” “We Strive for Excellence.” Not arguing. They didn’t even let the intro song about money that they always play finish before they hit it, and that’s probably fair enough because it was already pushing past their 11:35 start. “Burning Beard.” Fast. “The Regulator.” Groove. I was standing in back by then and kind of teared up feeling grateful for being here. I am so incredibly fortunate. “Ghoul Wrangler.” No, it’s not my first time around the block with Clutch. But to be here, in this place, with these people. As beat tired as I’ve been all day, this has been an incredible start that I expect will be momentum leading into tomorrow and Saturday. Not everyone gets to do what I do. I’m not trying to take over this post and talk about feelings or some shit — we’re here for riffs, damnit! — but I am lucky to be here right now, tonight. “Boss Metal Zone.” It went on like that, Clutch tearing it up, me feeling feelings; a coda on the evening. Maybe it never stops. Maybe that’s the story. Maybe some part of me lives here. “Nosferatu Madre.” Extra groove. I wonder if they’ll put this set out. “D.C. Sound Attack.” I was in the room when Neil Fallon laid down the vocals on this hook. “The Mob Goes Wild.” Indeed. “Electric Worry,” “Noble Savage,” “The Face,” fucking “Spacegrass.” Best set ever.

Thanks for reading. More tomorrow, and more pics after the jump.

Read more »

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Notes From Truckfighters Fuzz Festival #3 in Stockholm, Sweden, Dec. 10, 2022 (Night Two)

Posted in Features, Reviews on December 13th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Truckfighters (Photo by JJ Koczan)

4:05PM – Before the show

It’s kind of a shame that when this trip is over and I go home, I probably won’t keep the image in my head of sitting here at this table and watching the December wind pushing along the top of the water of the Liljeholmsviken out the window of Bar Brooklyn. In the big room next door, Debaser, Truckfighters are soundchecking, then Firestone, Enigma Experience getting set here. I’m here earlier than yesterday, and I was plenty early yesterday too, anxious to get everything sorted see what the evening held in store for photos and whatnot, but today I mostly just got tired of sitting around, being headachy and jetlagged without the distraction of anything else on which to focus. Here I’ve got bass coming through the wall. Probably won’t cure the headache, but going nuclear with xanax, Advil and coffee should help things balance out, stop me from grinding my teeth, etc.

At some point last night, it occurred to me that as of today, it’s been a decade since the last time I took a drink of alcohol, and no, getting beer spilled on you doesn’t count — I packed a spare pair of pants for tonight, since it seems reasonable to expect that will again. Swedes going hard this weekend. But yeah, 10 years. I still don’t really call myself ‘sober,’ though it’s handy shorthand for ‘no I don’t drink because I used to drink too much,’ plus my relatively recent (re-)dive into various THC consumables doesn’t exactly speak to a drive for lucidity, but as far as being something, it’s not nothing. Given the shape my body is in more generally and the trajectory of deeper middle age to come, not downing a case of beer and/or a bottle of wine every night is probably the right call. I’m rarely tempted to drink, so that’s fortunate.

Coat check debaser StockholmI’m also wearing a warmer hoodie tonight, since among Debaser’s amenities is a massive coat-check — it could basically be a third stage; has to account for both rooms — of which I plan to avail myself when it opens. Until then, things are pretty quiet here. I met last night an entire American contingent, including members of Texas’ Mr. Plow and long-tenured folks from shows more local to me. Hell, Ron (you know Ron) was in Richmond last weekend too, so no lack of continuity there.

The days are shorter here than at home. I don’t know what time the sun came up, as much as it did, with yesterday’s grim and grey weather carrying over, but it’s been full nighttime for over an hour now. Stockholm was out partying last night though, dance clubs going off near here, and one here after the show was done, welp-dressed people waiting in line to get in as the rock crowd made its way out. Would expect more of that tonight as well.

But it’s a cool city and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it tomorrow before flying out Monday morning, and I’m incredibly grateful to be here, thank you to Steve and the guys from Kings Destroy for having me along, intruding on their band-time, and to Truckfighters for putting this whole thing together and allowing me to access and cover it. And thank you as always for reading, Firestone soundcheckbecause if you didn’t, none of this shit would ever happen. This trip wraps the busiest stretch of travel in my life; since June, I’ve been to Germany, flew to Las Vegas in August, did Oslo in October, Mexico (not music-related but still travel) in November, drove to Virginia last weekend and now I’m here. Please don’t think I don’t understand how lucky I am.

Okay, enough sappy stuff, time for rock and roll. Thanks again and here we go.

Truckfighters Fuzz Festival #3 – Night Two


Firestone (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Was not sure what to expect from a Firestone reunion. Among Swedish heavy rock bands, they came about right as other stuff was kind of tailing off, but their Stonebeliever EP and their Fuzzsplit of the Century with Truckfighters — for whom Firestone guitarist Oskar Cedermalm already doubled on bass and vocals — remain choice these two decades later, and sure enough, they got on stage and delivered that sound, that fuzz for Fuzz Festival. I’ll admit I’m curious as to their plans, if they’re going to keep going, make another go of it now that there’s a different generational fanbase that’s proven ready and willing to dig back into older bands and material so long as it doesn’t suck and is available, and after seeing them play, it doesn’t seem over the top to think they might keep it going, but of course you never know watching a band on stage what else they might have going on in their lives. All the more with reunions. Still, they were vital in energy and classic in form, easy to dig for sure, and with the infrastructure of Fuzzorama Records behind them, it at least doesn’t feel crazy to think they could make something of it, even if that’s just more fest appearances every now and then.

Enigma Experience

Enigma Experience (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They were actually one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing, and I know that sounds funny given some of the acts on this bill over the two nights, but Enigma Experience released their debut album, Question Mark (review here), in 2020, and I feel like I’ve been trying ever since I heard it to get a handle on where exactly their sound is coming from. Seeing them live, as one would hope, gave more of a sense. Because it’s Niklas Källgren on guitar, at least some portion of the tone is going to be recognizable from his work in Truckfighters — yes, he and Oskar are both pulling double duty, triple if you count running the fest — but the context is legitimately different, and yeah, you might liken it to, well, he’s still jumping around on stage, but he’s doing so performing more vocals, switching from acoustic to electric, and complementing the stage presence of Maurice Adams while donning ladies’ eveningwear. The songs, still definitely rock and straight ahead, are also atmospheric in a way that makes me think they’ll continue to grow along those lines, and what’s nascent in their sound now will play an increasing role going forward as they grow together as a unit and gain the inherent confidence from that. They, very clearly, are on their way.


Astroqueen (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Not that I speak the language or anything, because I most definitely don’t, tack så mycket, but I’m pretty sure I heard Astroqueen announce from the stage they’ve got a new record coming. That would be their first in over 20 years — working on the Lowrider promotional model; funny that it works — and it would only be welcome if it’s got a fraction of the force I heard come off the stage. Playing more or less in the dark, they were no less vibrant for it, and where one might expect that two decades down the line the crowd might not be as immediately on board, but indeed, they had the room held rapturous. Again, it’s that same scene that produced Dozer, Firestone, Truckfighters, Demon Cleaner, The Awesome Machine, Astroqueen, all those bands who used to haunt the message boards and word of whom now spreads through social media. They are just not a band I ever expected to see, though I’ve had Into Submission since it was current, but it only really underlines for me how lucky I am to be here, to do this. The sound was bass-heavy and that’s just fine. They’ve been doing very select shows up to this point, but I can’t help but wonder how much they’ll get out with a new album to support. I look forward to potentially finding out, provided my inner translation matrix wasn’t way off and I’m excited about what was actually banter about doughnuts backstage or something. I guess you never really know until the press release, but here’s hoping.

Kings Destroy

Look at me, punching me ‘seen ’em in multiple countries’ card with Kings Destroy. They’ve toured Europe before, not to mention Australia and New Zealand, and I saw them in August, but to be honest, they used to play all the time, they don’t anymore, and I’m glad to catch a set whenever the opportunity might present itself. They were packed onto the Bar Brooklyn stage, the second five-piece there on the fest behind Gaupa last night, and they owned the room. The lights, the sound, the crowd were all in their favor, and that made being there for it that much better, but they’re the reason I got to come here in the first place, so watching them play is automatically a positive association in my mind, even when they complain about the set afterwards, which I have a hard time thinking they will tonight. You never know when it’s going to be the last time, so make the most of it. That was what I was trying to do in the front of the stage. My back’s sore, my head’s sore, and I don’t care. I know that most people don’t really get where this band is coming from — I’ll readily admit their second record was a head-scratcher for me for years until I got the vinyl — but I don’t care about that either. Call it sentimental if you want, it doesn’t matter. I feel fortunate every time I watch Kings Destroy play, and tonight they lived up to the occasion as well as their spot on the bill.


Greenleaf (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Words like “powerhouse” were invented for Greenleaf. I’ve seen the band that was once a classic rock side-project of Dozer’s Tommi Holappa before, but not since Arvid Hällagård joined on vocals, and he, Holappa, bassist Hans Frölich and drummer Sebastian Olsson just absolutely laid waste. I mean it. With Hällagård tapping full-on blues vocally with melody and confidence that reminds in the rawer live setting of some of what Dirty Streets touch on, from the opening notes, they took command of that room and made it move. Sound as physical presence. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to write about them objectively again, as much as I ever could, because there was such a sense of revelry, still drawn from that classic style that was the core of their beginning, but made into something compellingly their own over time. And in the year since Echoes From a Mass (review here) came out, my affection for it has only deepened. I don’t know if it’s timeless, their sound, but it’s dug through time to become something that is in and out of it simultaneously, and watching them play live, it was like watching dances being invented. What. A. Fucking. Band. The kind of band who make you wonder how it building still has doors. I’ll say this now, any opportunity I get to see Greenleaf, I’m going to take it for as long as I am able. They were superlative.


Kal-El (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Rippers. I had a feeling the Stavenger, Norway-based five-piece would be bringing it hard to Fuzz Fest, and yes, they delivered on that expectation. Nothing to argue with when a band comes out of the gate width that much of a sense of who they are and what they do. Last year, they released Dark Majesty (review here) and only built on the momentum they’d amassed over the few years prior, and if the crowd response they got at Bar Brooklyn is the result of that work they’ve put in, then yeah, they earned it. “Witches of Mars,” “Dark Majesty” itself, and their closing cover of Kyuss’ quintessential “Green Machine” found them well in charge of that space, and for not the first time here I felt like this festival could have had two rooms of equal size. As was, Kal-El brought volume and depth in kind, and handed it out with due aplomb. They’re a newer band, having put out their first release in 2015, but they’re zeroed right in on that Scandinavian ideal, having taken the lessons of California desert rock and turned influence into new creation. Kal-El made their case — “I plead the riff,” to make probably a too-American reference — and brought down Brooklyn Bar as only a headliner could and invariably must.


Truckfighters (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They weren’t the first Swedish fuzz band, which is something they’ve plainly acknowledged in booking this fest, but I don’t think you can really have a conversation about fuzz from here or otherwise without respecting what Truckfighters have brought to the style. With an inimitable stage presence and nigh-on aerobic delivery, they’ve become one of the most influential heavy rock bands of their generation, at home and abroad, and their years of steady touring and the expansion of their own sound over the course of their studio material isn’t to be understated. I’m telling you this to emphasize the point that this is a group — Niklas Källgren and Oskar Cedermalm, both founding members, with a succession of drummers rounding out the trio — whose efforts have directly contributed to the way one thinks of heavy rock today. Following Greenleaf is no easy task, I don’t care who you are, and Truckfighters earn extra kudos by not making it easy on themselves in terms of where they are on the bill — don’t forget, they’re running the show and they’ve both played sets with other bands already today — but did they deliver? I wonder, could there be any doubt? Nah. They came out — on time, mind you — and tore the place a new one, that bassy sound that had given Astroqueen so much wub pushing Truckfighters heavier even as they operated true to form. It was an occasion because they made it one, literally and figuratively, and up front I could feel the full press of the crowd behind me, swaying, shoving, moving to the music. These guys tried to do the indefinite hiatus thing a few years ago, already not owing anyone anything, and that only seemed to bring into relief how crucial they are. Yeah, they go nuts on stage — mostly Källgren at this point, but he’s enough for everybody, and Cedermalm is by no means standing any more still than he has to in order to sing, but they’ve become a more dynamic band with time. Their legacy will invariably be tied to “Desert Cruiser, the Gravity X album, which was their first, but their reach is broader than they generally get credit for, and they continue to uphold a standard that most bands daydream about. All-in, every second. That’s who they are.

When it’s over, you try to drink in as many little details as possible to preserve it. The pulsing bass of the drag-friendly dance party after the show. The spiced-berry taste of that sip of (non-alcoholic) glögg from Peder sitting with his family in a cozy, low-ceiling bakery. The smell of candied nuts in the winter market so exactly the same as New York. A crane lit in green neon in Old Town, who knows why. A spiral staircase outside a three-story house seen out the window of the train on the way to the airport. I am lucky to have been here.

More pics after the jump. Thanks again for reading, and special thanks to Justin Waggoner for letting me step in front to take pictures of Greenleaf and Mat Hause for doing the same before Truckfighters on the Debaser stage. Thank you to Steve Murphy, The Patient Mrs., my mother and Peder Bergstrand. I am fortunate to have such love in my life. Thanks to everyone who came up and said hi at the show. It was humbling.

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Freak Valley Festival 2023 Announce Orange Goblin, Melvins, Hypnos 69, King Buffalo, Seedy Jeezus and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 3rd, 2022 by JJ Koczan

A whopping 15 names dropped in the first announcement from Freak Valley Festival‘s 2023 edition, which also happens to be its 10th anniversary. I was fortunate enough to be there for it in 2022 and hope very much to follow suit next year, having fallen in love with the place, the people, the time. It’s a special thing happening between those German hillsides. If you’ve been, you already know. If you haven’t, tickets go on sale next week, and they’ll be gone. If that makes your FOMO kick in a little bit, good, go with it.

Orange Goblin doing Time Travelling Blues is a hoot, and it’s been more than a decade since I last saw Melvins, so probably time to punch my card there — I’ve been down on them the last however many years, but have the utmost confidence they’ll deliver live — and of course the thought of seeing King Buffalo on that stage, and the likes of Pontiak and Seedy Jeezus and Besvärjelsen for the first time (also a bunch of the others) is exciting. But the name that’s really got me here is Hypnos 69, the reunited Belgian Elektrohasch veterans whose albums Timeline Traveller, The Intrigue of Perception (discussed here), The Eclectic Measure and Legacy (review here), should be commonly regarded as classics and will hopefully get another look as a result of their starting to play again. I mean that. They were incredible. I hope they do another record, too.

A little bit of a different format to the writeup, which I wrote, than in past years, but I think it gets the point across. This is going to be incredible. If it’s at all possible for you not to miss it, don’t. Like they say: “no fillers, just killers”:

freak valley festival 2023 first announcement names

Time to start daydreaming about June 2023 and the return of Freak Valley Festival! Come join us for our 10th anniversary and the best FVF yet!

Tickets go on sale next week (Nov. 7 local, Nov. 8 online). We expect once again to be completely sold out, and we hope you agree that the lineup we’ve been putting together is worthy of your great faith in us.

Gather ‘round, fellow freaks, it’s time for the first names of Freak Valley 2023!

If you’re gonna go, go big. We start our season by announcing that the lords of weirdo crunch riffing themselves, the MELVINS, will play FVF for the first time ever! They mark their 40th anniversary in 2023 and remain some of heavy rock’s most lovable oddities. We’re thrilled to have them and know it will be something special.

It will have been seven years since we last hosted ORANGE GOBLIN – far too long – and we’re bringing the London doom ‘n’ roll kingpins over to play a special ‘Time Travelling Freak Valley Blues’ show to celebrate 25 years since their classic 1998 album, Time Travelling Blues!

Two very special returns for us in KING BUFFALO and SEEDY JEEZUS. Since KB last played in 2019, they’ve released three incredibly special albums in their pandemic trilogy and become a household name among heads in the know. We haven’t seen Seedy Jeezus since 2015, but we can’t wait to welcome Mr. Frumpy and company back once again! Hugs and riffs both will happen.

Joining us for the first time are Wino-fronted doom legends THE OBSESSED in their new four-piece incarnation, Appalachian psychedelic craftsmen PONTIAK, French heavy rockers KOMODOR, and the reunited Belgian progressive psych trio HYPNOS 69!

Speaking of reunions, Sweden’s ASTROQUEEN come to Netphen as part of theirs, and their countrymen in the classically bluesy KAMCHATKA, and the ever-vibing BESVÄRJELSEN will further blur the boundaries between genres as they make it sound so easy to do, both also first-timers at FVF.

Berlin’s EARTH SHIP, featuring Jan and Sabine Oberg (also Grin and Slowshine, etc.), are also set to make their first appearance!

PSYENCE – if you don’t know them, take four minutes and get introduced, but be ready to buy the record after: – come to us from the UK, as part of a contingent that thus far includes the sludgier TUSKAR and righteous up and coming riffers RITUAL KING. Expect that contingent to grow before June.

We’re doing our best as always to bring you the greatest and biggest Freak Valley Festival to-date. Who are you most excited for here? Who do you want to see on our stage? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to get your tickets for Freak Valley Festival 2023 while you can!

Freak Valley Festival // No Fillers – Just Killers
June 8-10, 2023

Hypnos 69, “The Great Work” live at Het Depot, Sept. 24, 2022

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Truckfighters Fuzz Festival #3: Astroqueen, Kal-El, High Desert Queen and Death Ray Boot Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Certainly Astroqueen playing one of their select few announced reunion shows is an event worth a nod, but amid the would-be-significant-even-if-it-was-just-Truckfighters-and-Greenleaf bill of the Truckfighters Fuzz Festival #3, it’s even more noteworthy.

There’s allegedly a non-zero chance I might travel to Stockholm for the two-day dig in the lovely company of Kings Destroy, who were slated to play this past year and did not owing to the complications of international travel, and gosh that would be just wonderful, but one way or the other, it’s cool to see the likes of High Desert Queen traveling abroad for what will be the second time in 2022. They’re currently on a UK tour and have summer plans besides. Band with a mission hitting it. So it goes.

Tickets are on sale now and I’m pretty sure the link is below here somewhere. Take a look:

Truckfighters fuzz festival 3




Their first live show in 15+ years!

Astroqueen was a stoner metal band from Stenungsund, Sweden. Active between 1998 and 2005 in their main run the band composed a thick, heavy stoner sound in a similar vein to Fu Manchu and Nebula though the band draws from other bands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Kyuss and Soundgarden. The group would sign to Pavement Music in December 1999 but it wouldn’t be until 2001 that the band release their only studio album Into Submission in 2001, produced by King Diamond guitarist Andy Larocque. Some recording sessions from 2003 and a split with Buffalo would come over the next few years.


Kal-El is a Tony Iommi approved Norwegian stoner rock band. These heavy rockers have released three full lengths alongside a pair of EP’s and toured both Europe and the States since their formation in 2012. The band is a product of diverse influences, and though they draw from the classics like Black Sabbath, Sleep and Motorpsycho, if one listens closely they can hear hints of thrash metal and Skandirock fleshing out the sound. It makes for a unique group who are determined to head out and take on the world.


After releasing their debut album “Secrets of the Black Moon” on Ripple Music in October of 2021, High Desert Queen has been doing more than turning heads, they are making them move. Their album finished in many top 10 lists for album of the year while receiving rave reviews.


With 10 years in existence, Death Ray Boot is keeping their own pace. Even though gigs have been few and far apart they have gained a trusting fan base. Their music exits somewhere between stoner and punk, right in the middle of The Stooges and Masters Of Reality. Or just something entirely different. Find out for yourself.

There is 19 early bird tickets (ONLY 595Sek) left from THIS LINK (, when they are gone the regular price is the deal.

Regular tickets:



Two full evenings of euphony.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 83

Posted in Radio on April 29th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this — an all-request show — but I’m especially happy to have put word out for people to pick tunes in this instance, because look at that middle block of songs! It’s like a guided tour through classic stoner rock. Not Slomosa so much, though they certainly emphasize the enduring influence of ’90s and ’00s heavy rock on new bands — or Circle, who end that block in avant-sludge fashion, but the rest of it is right in there. Unida. Goatsnake, Astroqueen. Lowrider. Acrimony. I’ll say them again. Acrimony. Even newer Bitchwax. I could’ve put Spirit Caravan in there as well, I guess, but I like the way this one flows as is, and you can see, they all came by request.

Some were just bands — play Slomosa, etc. — but some were specific to the songs included here. Playing Tin House and Funkadelic back to back is my idea of a good time. See also Lowrider and Goatsnake. I was thinking I might do blurbs in the Gimme chat for these bands while the show’s on. The last episode was pretty dead — I think it was also Good Friday? so maybe that had something to do with it — but just to help people kind of understand some of the context here, because I’m guessing that the more headbangerly contingent is going to see stuff like 500 Ft. of Pipe and not know what the hell is going on. Fair enough.

I may do that, I may not have the energy later today. I’ll be around in any case. Come say hi.

Thanks if you listen, thanks if you’re reading. Thanks in general.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at:

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.29.22

Blackfinger Waiting for the Sun (for Abraham Ram) When Colors Fade Away
Tenebra Moon Maiden (for Marco Gargiulo) Moongazer
Telekinetic Yeti Ancient Nug (for Matthew Parness) Primordial
Spirit Caravan Fang (for Tim Waits) Jug Fulla Sun
Slomosa On and Beyond (for Steve Janiak) Slomosa
Lowrider Convoy V (for Rob Godfrey) Ode to Io
Goatsnake Black Cat Bone (for Sven Mueller) Trampled Under Hoof
Astroqueen Tidal Wave (for Max Mountain) The 2003 Sessions EP
Unida Wet Pussycat (for Rob Godfrey) The Best of Wayne-Gro
Acrimony Hymns to the Stone (for El Pez) Tumuli Shroomaroom
Sheavy Savannah (for Darryl Felstead) The Electric Sleep
500 Ft. of Pipe 77 Burnout (for El Pez) Dope Deal
The Atomic Bitchwax Easy Action (for Mark Richard) Scorpio
Circle Rakkauta al Dente (for Amy Johnson) Terminal
Wartime Under Your Light (for Juan Lopez) Volumen II
King Woman Golgotha (for Caleb Dub) Celestial Blues
Achachak Celebration for the Desert (for Mile Mijac) Planet Hashish
Funkadelic Qualify and Satisfy (for Scott Hamilton) Funkadelic
Tin House Be Good and Be Kind (for Cheri Pi) Tin House

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is May 13 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

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Astroqueen Announce New Bassist; Hint at New Material

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Ahead of their first live appearance in 20-ish years, to be held in June at the inaugural Majestic Mountain Fest in Oslo, Swedish heavy rockers Astroqueen have announced the addition of Electric Hydra‘s Ellinor Andersson to their lineup on bass. Also Sweden-based, Electric Hydra released their self-titled debut (review here) in 2020 also on Majestic Mountain — which I’m pretty sure is already sold out of the reissue of Astroqueen‘s 2001 album, Into Submission, that it just put out — so it doesn’t seem out of line to think there was some connection made there between parties, but one way or the other, the lineup change speaks to an intention on the band’s part to do more than play a single show.

They say below “we have no idea where this new chapter leads,” and I’m willing to believe that — I don’t think they’re being purposefully cagey or anything — but you can read in their announcement that even in replacing Mattias Wester, they’re leaving the door open to doing more as a band if it works. Seems like the way to do it, honestly — feel it out and see where it goes.

From socials:

Astroqueen Ellinor

Astroqueen would like to welcome Ellinor Andersson (Electric Hydra) on the 4-string! It feels great to have low end again in the jam room. She will handle the legacy of Mattias Wester with precision and we would also like to thank Mattias for all the years we rocked out together. Unfortunately he can’t play loud music at this point due to tinnitus which is a real bummer, but we are also thankful to have his full blessing to carry on with Ellinor filling his shoes. We have no idea where this new chapter leads but we will do our first live show since 2003 in June in Oslo and we will take it from there and if it feels right, we might even record some new tunes down the line.

Johan Borgede – Drums
Daniel Tolergård – Guitar
Daniel Änghede – Vocals & Lead Guitar
Ellinor Andersson – Bass

Astroqueen, Into Submission (2001)

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